by Captain W. E. Johns



XVIII.    VISIBILITY CLEAR  (Pages 183 – 192)


“Some three hours later the entire party assembled in the shanty at Magube Drift.  There were nine people there.  Worrals, Frecks, Bill, the inspector and his pilot, Joe, Dayne and his pilot (whose name is not given), Uncle Dick and Andrew.  Bill was still ill but able to sit up and take an interest “and it was clear that he only needed food and rest to put him properly on his feet again”.  While Andrew prepares food, the inspector goes through the papers he has taken from Shardwell’s body.  The inspector then conducts an enquiry to tie up the loose ends.  Bill explains what happened to him.  He had checked out Shardwell’s story of owning Impala at Cape Town (where he posted a letter to Worrals) and found it to be false.  On returning to Impala he has been overpowered by Shardwell, Gronk and Wongorobo who had knocked him unconscious.  He then had vague recollections of being held by the witch-doctor and eating on occasions.  Worrals told her story.  Dayne explains how Shardwell had been employed by him as a good mining engineer.  Shardwell had bought several properties to Dayne’s attention but had recently asked to work on a commission basis rather than a regular salary.  He had bought Magube Drift to Dayne’s attention.  When Dayne had heard whispers of I.D.B (illicit diamond buying) he had driven up to see Shardwell at Keetmannshoop but Shardwell had assured him there was nothing to worry about.  Dayne had now chartered a plane to come up because he wanted to speak to Ashton and Mackintosh in person and see how negotiations were going.  Dayne says that as Shardwell was his agent, the least he can do is compensate people for their loses and he agrees to pay Bill for his loses and buy Worrals and Frecks a new plane.  “I’ll settle the account, with a bonus to cover your time and trouble” he tells them all.  The inspector says that having gone through Shardwell’s papers he can say there is a reef at Magube Drift “that’s fairly rotten with gold”.  Shardwell had been up when Dick and Andrew had been away and taken samples and an assayer’s report confirmed it.  When Shardwell had agreed a profit-sharing basis with Dayne, even a small share would have put a fortune in his pocket, hence his desperation to get his hands on the claim.  Dayne suggests that he, Dick, Andrew and Bill form a company, cutting profits four ways, and he will use his money to finance it.  Bill can organise and run the transport.  The inspector tells them all there will have to be a government inquiry and an inquest into the deaths.  At the subsequent enquiry, Worrals is exonerated for the deaths of Shardwell and Gronk which are ascribed to “an error of judgment on the part of the pilot”.  Wongorobo is sentenced to a long term of penal servitude.  He avoids the death penalty for murder as he says that Shardwell used his spear to kill Mahomet and he gets the benefit of the doubt.  Ingoona was warmly complimented by the judge for his loyalty, and returned to his tribe laden with presents for the Hereros who had taken part in the rescue”.  These are provided by Mr. Dayne, whose long record in South Africa was one of fair and honest dealing.  In the hands of competent doctors, Bill’s recovery is swift and complete.  The Magube Drift Mining Corporation is formed with Dayne, Dick, Andrew and Bill as directors.  Worrals decides to look at new planes in England and returns with British Overseas Airways.  Bill hints at Worrals staying, but she declines, although she promises to visit with Frecks.  “Okay, kid, maybe you’re right” he agreed.  Of course I’m right,” returned Worrals, taking his arm.  “We always are, aren’t we, Frecks?  And don’t call me kid”.